A Thorn in Our Side

Sports have not yet really featured in any of my posts but considering I have just written a book on New Zealand’s national game its probably a good idea. I have thought of someone I didn’t give enough of a mention in the book and while it feels a little late to add a section on this player, I would rather just mention him now in these paragraphs. The player who is on my mind is Brad Thorn and the reasons he deserves a mention are almost too many to count , but I will try.

There was a lot of sport on yesterday. West Ham won their way back to England’s Premier League and for some strange reason , Chelsea are the European Club Champions. It was a cringe-worthy contest where Bayern Munich were wasteful and Chelsea wholly negative for the entire match. But one player, who I can’t stand (Drogba), managed the only piece of footballing skill in the match and won it for the Blues. Whilst I wanted Munich to win there is something about the underdog coming through that makes the achievement special and all with a caretaker manager. But there was no better sporting moment yesterday than Leinster capturing a third Heineken Cup in four seasons. As a Dublin based writer, they are my local club and the landmark is even more impressive when I recall how the Province struggled against the likes of Munster just a decade ago.

Although he only had a bit part to play in Leinster’s win, Brad Thorn epitomises excellence in sport and in footballing codes more than most. While Lionel Messi and Brett Favre are names known internationally, it could be argued that Brad Thorn is one of the most decorated players of all time. I am going to try and reel off a list of his achievements to demonstrate his quality:

Rugby League – World Cup Winner (with Australia), 4 x NRL Winner (Rugby League’s premier competition), A decade of State of Origin for Queensland (Rugby Leagues toughest competition). 200 club games for Brisbane and more than 20 representative games at the highest level.

Rugby Union – World Cup Winner, Tri-Nations Winner, Bledisloe Cup Winner, Grand Slam Winner (With All Blacks), European Cup Winner (with Leinster), Super Rugby Winner (Southern Hemisphere Premier competition / with Canterbury), NPC Winner (New Zealands Provincial Championship), Ranfurly Shield ( New Zealand’s greatest rugby prize). 59 Test matches for the All Blacks and more than 100 games at provincial/club level.

You Beauty!! Brad Thorn with the Bledisloe Cup.                                                        (Rights…O.D.T)

There is far more silverware than this but to find it all would take a fair amount of research. You get the idea though, he has done it all. There maybe more yet if he plays into his forties. The crossing of sporting codes is not easy and very few are successful at it. There are enough differences between the two to provide a difficult prospect for those who attempt it, just not Thorn.

While Favre is a reasonably well known name outside of the United States, very few would have seen him play outside the US. He has broken every record in the NFL but the insular nature of American sports prevent us from knowing how great these sportsmen are in an international sense. Messi is an even more recognisable name in sport and he has achieved everything that club football has to offer with Barcelona but he is yet to translate that dominance to the international scene. In that sense he has not achieved what Pele and Maradona have. He is still young though, so I have a suspicion a World Cup is not outside his grasp.

Whilst rugby is not the biggest sport, it now has big revenues and the audiences come World Cup time are now in the billions. Brad Thorn is perhaps the greatest quiet achiever in international sport. Although he is quiet, you do not want to be caught in a ruck with him around. At 6 foot 5 and 256 pounds he once jokingly dubbed my shorter and lighter brother ‘Big Kris’ a nickname he still holds on to today. It is fair to suggest that even Chuck Norris is wearing Brad Thorn Pyjamas.

Bradley Carnegie Thorn – Well Done You!!! Treat yourself to a couple of lemonades.


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